Project Stream: Cost, Launch Date, and Games for Google's Streaming Service
Google is ready for gaming.
A new dawn for Google is on the horizon: On Tuesday, the search giant will update the world on the state of its upcoming video game console and game-streaming service, and a pair known as Project Stream and Project Yeti. It’s a duo that the company has promised in the past will make gaming more accessible across the globe.
Google has already invited media outlets to “gather around” for a keynote at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern. A full-fledged version of the Netflix-like, video game streaming platform is expected. If it performs as promised, it could let anyone with a laptop and decent internet connection play AAA titles.
It’s a huge development for the industry. At present, gaming consoles usually cost up to $500, while a PC gaming rig with all the bells and whistles can easily run over $1,000. Then, once you’ve got the hardware, you still need to go pick up a physical copy of a game or wait hours for a digital copy of the game to download. Project Stream could instantly do away with these annoyances that have thus far been ingrained in the gaming experience.
Instead, Project Stream will use Google servers to run games and stream the visual and audio output to a low-cost console that runs Chrome. A beta version was already tested in October of last year, in a trial that lasted until January 15, 2019. It gave testers a chance to play a full version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from their browsers, no downloading or installing required, and early adopters responded positively. This gave gamers a good idea of what to expect from the service, but Google’s Project Yeti console still remains shrouded in mystery.
The company’s upcoming announcement will likely lay out its plan for competing against established gaming companies with a stronger background in hardware. But with the roll-out of 5G expected to make gaming lag a thing of the past, Google could be among the first to fire shots in the battle to democratize PC-gaming for people who can’t afford gaming rigs or the newest console.
Here’s everything we know about Project Stream and Project Yeti.
When Will It Be Released?
Google has yet to announce an official release date for the streaming service or console, but that could change after its GDC keynote. The company added a new section to its online store recently advertising a “new way to play,” suggesting that Project Stream could go on sale in a matter of days.
Seeing how the service has already been tested, Google could release its game streaming platform as early as March 18. Little is known about how far along the Project Yeti console in its development stages, but the tech company could use the keynote to tease the hardware and announce a launch date.
How Much Will It Cost?
Sony and Nvidia already offer game-streaming services called PlayStation Now and GeForce Now respectively. These still require expensive hardware, but eliminate the hassle of having to wait for games to download.
Sony’s service costs $19.99 per month while Nvidia’s charges a hefty $25 for every 20 hours of streaming. Google’s fee will probably fall somewhere between $15 to $25 if takes a cue from its biggest competitions. That likely won’t include the cost of the Project Yeti console, which could still run a couple of hundred dollars.
How To Sign Up For Project Stream Betas?
Signing up to receive updates and a potential beta invitation is as simple as visiting Project Stream’s homepage. All users have to do is sign up with their emails to slide on to Google’s mailing list, but actually getting a chance to try the service out will rely on how speedy and capable your internet service is.
How To Get an Invite To Project Stream?
Google has not announced if it would be giving users another chance at testing out Project Stream through a beta version but, given the limited scope of the first Project Stream beta, it seems likely. That said, aspiring testers will need to be both speedy and have sufficient wifi connection to qualify.
In order to qualify for the service’s beta test last October, users had to first benchmark their internet connection. To achieve stable streaming, they needed to show a connection of 15 megabits per second or faster, latency needed to be 40 milliseconds or fewer, and “loss” needed to be 5 percent or lower, according to SlashGear. Participants in the last test also needed to sign in using a desktop or laptop computer.
So, if Google does announce a new test or Project Stream’s release, make sure your internet is up to snuff by using Google’s own internet speed test.
How Would Project Stream Work?
The plan is for Project Stream to leverage Google’s cloud-computing technology to let future users play big-named titles straight from their browser. Google will run all of the games it gets permission to host on its in-house hardware and then stream them to users’ screens. It’s an appealing prospect: Instead of having to wait until a new game is done installing, users will be able to flip on Project Stream and get playing immediately.
As previously stated, game quality will hinge upon internet speed and bandwidth. Poor connection will result in laggy and unresponsive games. But Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated that high-speed 5G internet connectivity could hold the key to eliminating these issues during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.
“Being able to deliver gaming with real-time, low-latency requirements, is an important computing advancement,” he said. “It’ll help us drive the newer computing platforms we’re working on as 5G rolls out.”
What Games Will Come With Project Stream?
A specific list of games hasn’t been unveiled yet, but expect the focus to be on single-player, story-driven games, like the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey demo. The beta test proved that the service is capable of running graphically demanding games at 1080p 60fps, so expect it to recreate that with other big-name titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Hitman 2. Online games might be a little tricker to pull off.
Competitive games usually require players to make split second decisions that could make or break the result of a round. Streaming an online game would be like adding a middle man, which would create more lag. Gamers need to send their inputs to Google’s servers, which would then send them to, say, [Apex Legends]’ servers. Even with blazing fast internet speeds this would fundamentally add more delay.
Project Yeti hardware could be used to offset this issue by handling certain inputs locally, but Google hasn’t offered any details about such plans.
Who’s Competing with Project Stream?
Google is hardly the only company that is preparing a gaming product ahead of the 5G roll out. Sony, Nvidia, Microsoft, Amazon, and potentially even Apple have all either released a similar service or are said to be planning one.
Microsoft is gearing up to begin testing its xCloud gaming service in 2019, while PlayStation Now fully launched in 2015. Google has a lot of work to do if it if wants to lure gamers from more established brands in the space. That may be where the Project Yeti hardware comes in.
What Could the Project Yeti Console Look Like?
Not a lot is known about Google’s first ever gaming console other that it’s reportedly in development. But key detail we do know is revealing: It is reportedly meant to be low-cost compared to other consoles.
The Information first reported that Google was cooking up a console in February of last year. Early reports described it as being a Chromecast-like dongle that users could hook up to their computers, but as time went on, reports shifted to describing it as an Android-based gaming console.
Kotaku reported last June that the device was in development and that Google was speaking to games companies about hosting their titles. We’ll know a lot more when Google takes the stage tomorrow.